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How Do I Care for a Bay Laurel Plant?

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017
Bay laurel is the source of bay leaves, a popular culinary seasoning.
bay leafs image by ewa kubicka from Fotolia.com

Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a small evergreen tree with a lovely pyramidal shape and dense, shiny, sweet-smelling leaves. Bay laurel is a low-maintenance tree that does well planted in hedges. It can take center stage in a woodland garden or can be pruned into topiary shapes. Bay laurel has great culinary value, as bay leaves are used to flavor a number of dishes, including soups, stews, sauces and meat dishes. If you live in a climate with hard winter freezes, grow bay laurel in a container and bring it indoors for the winter.

Plant bay laurel where the tree will be exposed to 2 to 4 hours of morning sunlight, but will be protected from the sun during the heat of the afternoon. Bay laurel should be planted in well-drained soil and should be sheltered from strong winds.

Water bay laurel as soon as the soil feels nearly dry to the touch. Never allow the soil to become bone dry.

Fertilize bay laurel lightly in spring and summer, using an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Avoid fertilizing the plant during fall and winter.

Plant bay laurel in a container and bring it indoors if you live in a cold winter climate. Fill the container with a mixture of 3/4 commercial potting soil and 1/4 sand. Be sure the container has bottom drainage. Place the container in a sunny window, away from cool drafts.

Prune bay laurel lightly when necessary. Remove tips of branches as needed, to maintain the desired shape and size, and prune any spindly or weak branches. Otherwise, bay laurel requires no pruning.


Things You Will Need

  • All-purpose liquid fertilizer
  • Planting container with drainage hole
  • Commercial potting soil
  • Sand
  • Garden pruners

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.